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Urban Legends

7Up

The Legend

7Up gets its name from the number its ingredients and the word "up" because, to make the beverage, the ingredients have to be "mixed up."


Behind the Legend

7Up was invented by Charles Leiper Grigg (an albino) in 1929. He was an experienced beverage inventor, having created carbonated beverages "Whistle," "Plunk," and "Boom" for an employer over the span of a decade. After leaving his employer over a disagreement about the appropriate amount of lithium in drinks marketed to children, Grigg set up his own soft-drink company.

Grigg's first effort as an independent producer was the grapefruit-flavored "Howdy," which saw moderate success. He continued to experiment with citrus, eventually settling on a lemon-lime formula. The new beverage was marketed with the uncomfortably long name, "Bib-Label Lauded Lemon-Lime Soda." The "bib-label" part of the name referred to the bottles' labels, which were tied on like little bibs. "Lauded" indicated that the drink contained significant quantities of laudanum. The drink became an instant sensation and was particularly popular with depressed single women.

Unfortunately, fate was to quickly snatch success from Grigg. Political controversies caused the market for opiates to plummet, and Grigg found himself in the position of having to reformulate his company's most successful beverage or go bankrupt. Within a few months, the laudanumless New Bib-Label Unlauded Lemon-Lime Soda hit the markets, but was quickly rejected by a picky public who didn't know what the make of the name. Grigg, knowing that people still wanted drinks that made them feel good even if they weren't filled with narcotics, renamed the drink "Up up up up up up up!" and advertised that it could make "even the most depressed pensioner feel awake and alive!" The marketing strategy worked, and when consumers began referring to the drink as "seven ups" Grigg adopted this shorter name.

Because 7Up is such an odd name, a number of legends have arisen about its origin. They include:

  • It takes seven ingredients (sugar, water, carbon dioxide, lemon, lime, axomitosyndrosine, and micamarlithiacitricate) to make 7Up. The list of ingredients is accurate, but the origin of the name is not.
  • Grigg's first seven attempts to make a new beverage made taste testers throw up.
  • 7Up has seven letters. This is a strange explanation, since "7Up" obviously only has three.
  • The beverage originally came in six packs, leaving one hand free to hold an open bottle for a total of seven.
  • It was so good that it one-upped the seven deadly sins.
  • Grigg wanted to call the new drink "Tup" but he had horrible handwriting.
  • The name doesn't mean a damned thing -- Grigg was high as a kite when he came up with it.

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